Uckfield Line passengers on the frontline of rail disputes, says Observer

Our independent columnist Observer discovers Uckfield Line train operator Southern is facing war on three fronts with its employees.

At the time of writing there will no trains on the Uckfield Line from Monday to Friday inclusive because of a strike by conductor-members of the RMT Union.

Southern is providing a limited service on most other lines but we, being the poor relations, get nothing.

Just how are hundreds of people going to get to work? How are many people going to get to London for urgent appointments?

‘Disgrace’ that Uckfield is cut off


It is a disgrace that no arrangements whatsoever are made for Uckfield Line passengers.

We got (some) ten-car trains and longer platforms and now, for a week, nothing.

A ten-car train sits at the extended Uckfield railway station platform with an 07:05 service to London Bridge

A ten-car train sits at the extended Uckfield railway station platform with an 07:05 service to London Bridge

I have discovered Southern have more industrial problems looming.

The dispute with the guards is long-running with both sides entrenched.

Two more disputes looming


I read that ASLEF is now saying industrial relations have broken down with Southern’s parent company GTR, and will ballot drivers over possible strike action.

And, if that is not enough, the TSSA union is to ballot its station staff members over the closure of ticket offices.

There are a lot of unanswered questions flying around.

  • Is it coincidence that Southern has potential industrial disputes on three fronts? 
  • Is the company making a concerted effort to improve the way they run the railway and is meeting intransigence from the unions?
  • Are we seeing a power struggle between the company and unions?
  • Just what role is the Department for Transport playing in all this?

I don’t know the answers – nor all the right questions to ask – but I will tell you one thing:

Uckfield Line passengers are on the frontline.

Unreliable services have tried their patience to breaking point and beyond in the last 18 months to two years.

These strikes are the final straw and we feel like cannon fodder in a battle not of our making.

Anger over withdrawal of all services during strike

See also:

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